Way back in January, while celebrating the New Year at Burnt Dog Lodge, the conversation eventually came around to New Year's Resolutions. Now, I'm not a big fan of making impossible statements about life changes or claims, but as folks talked about what they wanted to accomplish in the new year, I made a pretty bold statement - "Before the year is over, I will make it to the top of the subdivision on my bike."
Now, for those of you who have not been to Burnt Dog Lodge, our cabin is the second house in a subdivsion that goes up to the top of a mountain. It is only .8 of a mile to the top, but it is almost all up hill, at very steep grades, I'd estimate around 18-20% in places. I tried, unsuccessfully back in July on my road bike. I made it about 1/3 of the way up the first climb before I felt like I was going to puke and my heart explode from my heaving chest.
This time, on our Christmas trip up, I packed a different weapon - my mountain bike. It is geared differently than my road bike, more suited for climbing. Well, after laying around most of the day on Christmas Eve, it was time for an attempt. I got dressed, Suzy did as well. We hopped on, rode one of the side roads to get a little warmed up, and off we went. It was not to be Suzy's day, as she needs more warm up than I, and she stopped about where we did in July. I gave her the keys to the cabin, telling her I was going to attempt it solo. After catching my breath, and realizing I could not ride straight up the climbs without my heart exploding, I modified my plan of attack and started zig zagging up the climbs. I would stop and rest periodically to get my heart rate back under control, but I continued on until I rounded the last corner and saw the crest of the road. After I rested enough to start looking for a suitable place to take a self portrait, I saw a welcome sight - here came Suzy walking up the road! She had gone back home, put up her bike and gotten out her running shoes and her ipod and come on up after me.
It was a nice sense of acomplishment, and a heck of a fun ride back down the hill. I don't yet know what I will make as my resolution this year, but it feels good to have accomplished what goals I set for myself this year.
Merry Christmas everyone, and it's not too early to start planning that Resolution for 2008!
Well boys and girls, it's that time of year again, the month of Birthdays around here. Suzy's was first, mine is around the corner, and here at Regency, we have a tradition where we have a celebratory lunch for the special Birthday person. We usually get take out from somewhere, or occasionally we cook something. This year, Suzy asked me what I wanted for my special lunch treat, and I surprised her by saying that I wanted to cook my lunch myself - usually the guest of honor just requests what he/she would like and the others take care of it. But, we have been in the mood for good bar-b-que around here lately, and I have been wanting to try my hand at pulled pork, so I fired up my Google-fu powers and dove headfirst into making something totally new to me - pulled pork from a Boston Butt. I made a rub for the outside, and injected the inside of the meat with a marinade, and let it get happy in the fridge for the morning, then I fired up the grill low and slow on one side only and proceeded to cook it, and cook it, and cook it and cook it, well you get the idea. I put it on at 4:30pm, the gas tank ran out around 10pm, I swapped tanks and started everything back up again, it started raining around 11pm, so into the oven it went. And it cooked, and it cooked, and it cooked... It FINALLY came to the proper internal temperature right before the normal alarm clock would go off this morning. It cooked for 15 hours total, then I wrapped it in foil for an hour to let the juices redistribute and then I pulled it. I can't wait for the sandwiches tomorrow, but right now, all I want is a nap...
Well, today we actually got out on the bikes and went for a little hill climb. While we are posed by the sign for Brasstown Bald, we just actually parked there and rode down and up one side of Jack's Gap. Our friends from Albany, Tiffanie and Vonnie were leaving to go home today, so we met them at the base of Brasstown for a ride. Hill climbing is not for the feint of heart, it's a pretty tough endeavor. I think my next ride will be on a rolling section of road on a circuit I devised that leave from the cabin and makes a loop ending back here as well.
Bonnie also had a first, she got to have a marshmallow that Suzy gave the dogs while she was making rice krispy treats. That marshmallow wore her out. She went to sleep with it half licked, and stuck to her front leg, so I pulled it off her and gave it to Ri.
Len and Megan came up for the day, and brought Scully, Maggie, Daisy & Devon. We had grilled fish tacos for dinner, and they hung out and visited until late evening and then had to get back home so Len could go to work Monday - sucks to be Len!
Today was white water rafting on the Ocoee River in Southeastern Tennessee. Fred and Suzy had never been, and it was a great experience. We had the stoner guide from Hell, but all worked out OK. Loco even channeled the Indian spirits to infuse himself with the power of the Mohawk on the return bus ride home. We met up with BaT Girl and her husband, along with Lulu, Vonnie's younger sister for an out of town, Albany style gathering for the rafting trip. We signed up with the Nantahala Outdoor Center to take us on our journey, and we were over all quite pleased with their operation.
Betsy and Doug are enroute, Tex and Megan are coming up for a day trip Sunday, and Felicia is on tap at some point, at least I think she is.
Tomorrow is bike ride morning, we go to meet Tiff at the base of Brasstown for a ride - we are not attempting the assault on Brasstown, but will ride in the shadow of it, somewhere near and around Unicoi Gap and Jack's Gap. Hopefully I will be able to snap some pics of our suffering in the morning to post for tomorrow's update. Stay tuned! It should be a good one.
Well, as first meals go, this one is pretty fine. Stripling's ground Chuck hamburger, pickles, onion, mustard be nice... Oh wait, that's a Jimmy Buffet song... Anyway, Suzy's signature rosemary roasted potatoes and a big fat juicy cheeseburger is a heck of a way to start off vacation. Tomorrow is white water rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. Stay tuned for updates as they happen, we sure will be tuned in for the next exciting installment coming soon to a blog near you!
OK, so it's more food, but I couldn't help myself. This is my attempt at beer can chicken, tried last weekend on several unsuspecting friends we asked over for dinner. They had no idea I had never tried to make this, much less 3 of them, but they turned out quite well. I busted out the big charcoal grill and cooked them over indirect heat and they were so moist it almost made me cry. They recipe curiously omitted garlic, but next time I think I'll toss some in, either in powdered form in the dry rub, or in smashed clove form in the actual beer in the can.
Lunch started off with me viewing this lovely sight in a presentation case at the cool little restaurant we found in Clarksville to eat lunch at. I'm a sucker for a beautiful cut of beef, and these 24 ounce, bone-in ribeyes with the rib bone frenched made me weep that they only had these on the dinner menu - at a reasonable $17.00 with your choice of sides, and a limited, but very nice looking beer and wine offering, I was almost ready to stay til sundown.
Alas, we ate our fill of the best philly cheesesteak I'd had in ages and headed to Cornelia to Lowes to buy plants to plant at Burnt Dog Lodge so we would have a splash of Summer color around. We opted to cook in tonight, since we brought the Lodge's namesake with us as a special treat - Ri was the only hound that got to come with us, and she was loving all of the one on one time with her peeps.
A quick trip to Betty's in Helen to procure some dinner provisions resulted in this:
An off the hook beef lover's dream. My new special marinade on 2 nicely sized ribeyes, some of Suzy's signature rosemary potatoes, some fresh asparagus, Suzy's (in)famous pesto poppin fresh crescent rolls, and a wonderful bottle of Coppola Claret 2004 to wash it down with. In case you weren't in beef overload yet, here's a closeup of the main attraction:
Not bad for roughing it in the mountains! Now someone tell me how to make this my permanent home and I'd be quite grateful!
Yesterday was a wierd day. Loco sent a link to a wacky article about some fools in England trying to protest GM crops being planted, so they organized a guerilla planting of regular potatoes in the field to ruin the crop - trouble is, they picked the wrong field and ruined an innocent farmer's crop instead, well here's the link for you: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/04/368698.html?c=on#comments
While the post is kind of wacky, the funniest part of it are the comments section, notably the use of the word Asshat. Well, being an online gamer, I have come across this word frequently used to describe idiots that do stupid things, but hey, I love seeing it in mainstream usage outside of online gaming. We had a good email session back and forth getting a good laugh out of the word, and I am glad to see it introduced to other people's vocabulary. On to the Asscrack portion of the day...
On the afternoon bike ride, there were the usual list of suspects that showed up to ride, but we had a new addition to the mix, some guy with tattoos all over his legs riding a Specialized S-Works Tarmac carbon - nice bike for sure, but he was rocking the full on Specialized Zebra kit, even down to the matching gloves. Zebroy, as he will now forever be known, committed several cardinal sins with his clothing choices of the day. First off, no one can rock zebra, unless you are the Lion King, Mario Cipollini( see above photo). Super Mario, as he was also called, was a great big Italian sprinter who could back up his flamboyant kit choices with his awesome sprinting prowness, thus he was able to rock the zebra stripes, and it looked good on him. Secondly, his shorts were abraded and scuffed, as well as looking to be about a half size too small. Now we all know that lycra tends to get a bit transparent when stretched, so let's just say when he was riding in front of you, the full moon was shining very brightly. We all know what happens to white when it gets wet, and what happens when you ride? That's right, you sweat. Enough said about that, but I almost ran off into the ditch trying to avoid the terrible sight in front of me most of the ride. It seemed no matter where I tried to position myself in the peloton, I was within sight of Zebroy's fashion faux paus. So, what's Superman to do? Outsprint Zebroy and Dreamweaver at the mailbox to escape the horrors that had been inflicted upon my delicate sensibilities for the bulk of the ride.
All in all, a good day, just a bit wacky in places!
For those of you that don't know, Suzy and I are watching Len & Megan's greyhound, Scully. Megan was in a bad accident and has been in the hospital for quite a while, and will be in a wheelchair for several months while her bones and all the attendant hardware fuse together to make her the bionic woman. Scully is very exuberant and likes to greet you at the door with her paws, giving you a welcome home hug, and she also likes to snuggle and try to be a lap dog. We figured these traits, while lovable, were not the best thing for someone trying to heal, so we offered to keep Scully until Megan got well enough to withstand her affections.
We had been noticing that there seemed to be more of Scully to love since we got her, and asked Len if she had put on weight. He said she had been getting some extra food. Well, curiousity got the better of me this morning, and she was in the bathroom with me while I was getting ready for work, so I scooped her up and stepped on the scales to see. I am happy to report she is a healthy 66.5 pounds. Seems she's like Applebee's - Eating Good in the Neighborhood!
We lost Mallory this morning to his fight with what we believe to be bone cancer. He went out the doggie door after breakfast and we heard him screaming and found him laying on the deck, unable to stand. We calmed him down, and I was able to pick him up and carry him into the house, but he was in great pain when I put him on the front bed in a standing position. It was evident that he wasn't going to be able to put any weight on that leg again and so I cradled him in my lap and we made the call to the Vet's office. Dr Steve came to the house and we sent the big goofy boy to be with his sister Lily.
God speed Mr Mallory, and may all your days be filled with nice big pits to dig and lay in and may marrow bones always be with you. We'll never forget you and the hole in my heart is much bigger than your pit in the back yard.
OK, so I have to admit it, I'm in a rut. A good tasting rut to be sure, but a rut nonetheless...
What's a food loving guy to do? Quit blogging about Friday night adventures or posting a new food shot here each week... Decisions, decisions. OK, since I had no other noteworthy news, heres the Baked Spaghetti we had last Friday night, since it was too cold and wet to grill. This is an adaptation of Thursday night's leftovers - an improvement if you ask me.
Suzy kicked up some crescent roll dough with some pesto and cheese and made pesto cheesy poofs to go with the spaghetti - an off the hook selection. Add in a few well selected bottles of grape squeezings and you've got a great weekend kickoff meal. Here's to creatvity and neccessity being the mother of all invention and all that jazz...
Since we had such good luck with our grilled pizza last week, we attempted to recreate one of our favorite pizzas from Harvest Moon - The Roasted Rooster pizza, with grilled chicken, crumbled bacon, caramelized onions, spinach, pesto and sundried tomatoes. This is a white pizza, with no tomato sauce.
Suzy made her dough, this time adding a bit of malt for sweetness, then we chopped up 2.5 pounds of onions and caramelized them in the iron skillet, following a recipe Suzy found in Rachel Ray's magazine. I grilled some chicken brushed with pesto on the grill while Suzy sauteed some spinach and cooked up some bacon to crumble up for the pizza. Once all the prep work was done, we assembled what you see here - chicken, bacon, spinach, pesto, chopped fresh garlic, basil, a blend of 6 italian cheeses, more parmesean cheese, sundried tomatoes, hot pepper flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil to make sure it didn't dry out while cooking. It was quite tasty, but I think next time we agreed a light layer of tomato sauce would help bring out all the flavors better.
Once again, it was great to be at home on a Friday night and have a nice meal at home. I talked to the rental office in Helen yesterday, and they had 5-6 inches of snow up there on Thursday!
Ok, to be fair, this shot of me in all my drunken glory enjoying my S'More got cut off from my last post, so here you go. I don't want to be accused of just showing Suzy in her finest moments and leaving my shots on the cutting room floor...
OK, I guess this is a two for one night, where you get not one, but two posts for your entertainment dollar. I've been hearing about grilled pizzas for a long time now, Bobby Flay has made them on several occasions, as well as other Food Network chefs. I got to thinking - just exactly how good could pizza be on the grill? It's pretty damn tasty cooked properly in the oven. So, being the adventurous type, I asked Suzy very sweetly to make some of her awesome Parmesean pizza dough from the recipe we got from Nora Mill Granary in Helen, just around the corner from the cabin. She willingly obliged, so I got to work on the grill, prepping the ingredients for the pie. I grilled 3 bell peppers, one each of red, yellow and green, and one medium onion while Suzy was making the dough. After the dough was done and the vegetables grilled, we blind "baked" the crust on the grill at nuclear temperatures for about 8 minutes. The grill was full on - all 4 burners were going full blast, and the temperature was around 550 degrees. I then topped the crust with sauce, cheese, pepperoni, sun dried tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh oregano, and ALL of the previously grilled vegetables, topped with some dried herbs and a little shaker parmesean cheese. Back to the grill we went, this time turning the heat down to low so as not to scorch the bottom of the crust for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes on the grill, the crust couldn't take any more heat, so we tossed it under the broiler for a few quick minutes to brown up the top layer and drive off a bit of the moisture from the veggies. The resulting pie was the best damn pizza I have put in my mouth in I can't remember when. The whole process took about 3 hours from start to finish, so it's not a weeknight type of undertaking, but it is definitely a do-over on a weekend night.
We then proceeded to make S'Mores for dessert, roasted over a roaring chiminary fire on the deck. I think you can tell form the pictures that they were off the hook as well.
Conclusion - It's good to be at home on the weekends and not running up and down the road to Helen back (get it? to Hell and Back...). Cheers, and here's to good eats and more importantly, good sports!
OK, I figured this was as good as any picture to replace the most recent post on my blog. I had heard through the grapevine that the picture wasn't entirely kosher with some of my viewers. While I didn't mean any offense by it, or see where it might be construed as offensive, I have finally decided to post something to bump it down out of the top spot.
This was taken Friday afternoon after work, at the local Harley dealership. The Budweiser Clydesdale horses were in town, and Suzy had never seen them before, so we headed over after work to get there just in time to see them taking their draft harnesses off and loading them back onto their custom trailers. These guys are HUGE. Suzy is a good 30 feet away from them and they still tower over her in this shot. The handlers looked dwarfed next to the gentle giants. It was cool to get to see them again, it has been a long time since my childhood encounter with the Clydesdales, and it is a shame we missed their performance, but a little thing called work got in the way...